by Cody "Micajah" Bye

In J.R.R. Tolkien's The
Lord of the Rings
, one of the most awe-inspiring moments
in the saga was the Fellowship's flight through Moria, only to be
trapped at the least moment by a flame-wreathed creature made of shadow
and sporting equally menacing weapons of a sword and a whip. It was
this creature, the Balrog, that forced Gandalf the Grey to give up his
life to save the remaining members of the Fellowship. When he returned
to the world of the living, he was Gandalf the White. The Balrog
encounter in the bowels of Moria truly was a huge turning point in style="font-style: italic;">The Lord of the Rings saga,
as it also inevitably broke up the Fellowship and caused Aragorn to
take up the mantle of leadership after Gandalf fell. If anyone didn't
believe it was a pivotal encounter, they'd be kidding themselves.

For a bit of short background info on the Balrog, href="">these powerful
creatures were originally Maiar, angel-like beings that
belonged to the same order as Gandalf and Sauraman, but through the
temptations of a Valar (similar to archangels), the Maiar were
corrupted and became the Balrogs. However, many LOTRO lore href="">afficionados
have contended that having an encounter with a Balrog - aside from the
Balrog in Moria - is an affront to the Tolkien lore. However,
Ten Ton Hammer wanted to get to the bottom of why the developers at
Turbine decided to introduce another Balrog into the game. In our
recent interview, we made a request for an official developer response
to the lore question. We've gathered this for you, along with several
other developer comments made on the LOTRO Official Forums concerning
their decision to put another Balrog into the game. If you're at all
interested in why a Balrog will be in Book 11 and if they can be killed
by mortals, continue reading and find out!

The official developer
response to why there might be more than one
Balrog in Middle Earth:

a common
misconception that the Balrog known as Durin’s Bane, which
drove the Dwarves out of Moria and was eventually slain by Gandalf atop
Zirak-zigil, was the only one of its kind. This is not true, as is
clear from Tolkien’s own writing. When Durin’s Bane
first appears in The Fellowship of the Ring, both Legolas and Gandalf
provide a clue when they refer to it as “a Balrog,”
implying that there are certainly more; if there was only one, it would
consistently be “the Balrog.” This is echoed later,
when Legolas speaks of it in Lórien, and again in Appendix
B, The Tale of Years, when Durin’s Bane first appears in

Little else is said
about the matter in
The Lord of the Rings style="font-style: italic;">, and nothing at all about what
other Balrogs there might be, but other sources by Tolkien state that
others existed, and a few survived the Elder Days and hid beneath the
earth. This, of course, means that others might be found in remote
locations, though even the Wise may know little about them. Such foes
would, of course, be rare and extremely powerful; players will never
encounter hordes of them, and they will always be extremely difficult
to defeat.

Here's a similar response
that was documented on the official forums and came in response to a
question provided by a fan.

When did I say that Smaug didnt kill lots of other people before Bard
came along? He obviously did, he tells Bilbo about it when they meet.
Did i say otherwise??? I was just pointing out that Turin killed
Glaurung singlehandedly, with one thrust of a sword.

As someone else pointed out, Bard also killed Smaug singlehandedly. Yes
the Old Thrush passed word to Bard about Smaug's missing scales, but it
was one shot from one bow that killed the dragon.- Originally
Posted by Eol on the Official Forums  

Indeed, as a long-time fan of many fantasy novels and gaming, I am
always amused when people declare that it should be impossible to kill
'x' or defeat 'y' because it would be too powerful based on the lore or
backstory of said creatures.

It is
something of a
theme in Tolkien's works - especially LotR - that the meek shall
accomplish great things. Lets run down the kill list real quick in
'game terms':

Smaug - One-shotted by
human Hunter

Glaurung - One-shotted
by a solo human Champion

Shelob - Defeated by a
hobbit Guardian/Gardner

The Witch King of
- Do'ed by a female human Guardian and hobbit Champion

style="font-style: italic;">
Sauruman - Jacked up
a Human Burglar

Sauron - Defeated by
Human Champion (Guardian?), at full power(!), War of the Last Alliance.
He did have a pretty big Raid group supporting him however.

style="font-style: italic;">

Now, certain enemies
so powerful that it is highly unlikely that any lone mortal could
defeat them. Balrogs fall under this category, and only a few First Age
elves of immense personal power could really hope to contend with them
one-on-one - but an army might, if they could hold ranks against such a
foe. The same could be said for the greater Dragons - though we know
that they CAN fall to mischance or herioc gambits.

style="font-style: italic;">

Sauron himself saw
he was badly outmatched by the armies of Númenor in the
Second Age, and surrendered rather than risking personal defeat at
their hands. Could they have killed him? Probably. They almost
certainly could have destroyed his physical form and banished him as a
powerless spirit, as eventually happened with the destruction of

As for Balrogs? Well,
the lore is clear - they can be dispatched by mortals. The chief of the
Balrogs, Gothmog, was slain in a duel with the elf-lord Ecthelion in
the First Age. Ecthelion didn't make it either, but lets give the
fellow his due.

Indeed of all the
bad-guys of Middle-Earth, only one clearly has his 'god-mode' flag set
to true, and that is Morgoth himself. It is fairly clear from the
description of his battle against Fingolfin that the high-elven king
did in fact righteously P0W|\|Z the Dark Lord, but it was simply
impossible for a mortal to physically dispatch a Valar, so in the end
he was worn down and crushed. - a
response to Eol's post by the developer Jesse "Vastin" King

I hope this officially answers the two biggest questions that have
sprang up concerning the Balrogs! If you're at all interested in the href="">reasoning
behind introducing the Balrog or href="">any other Book
11 questions - href="">including
housing - make sure you read our in-depth interviews with
Jeffrey Steefel and Adam Mersky.

Ten Ton Hammer is your
unofficial source for Lord
of the Rings Online
href="">news and

Make sure you check out the LOTRO
Community Site

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Lord of the Rings Online Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016